Elizabeth I

Design
ca. 1585 (made)
Elizabeth I thumbnail 1
Elizabeth I thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This portrait of Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard is almost certainly one of the pattern drawings that he made for her Great Seal in 1584. Hilliard completed several drawings for the commission and the Queen chose the one that she liked best for the final design. This was not the chosen version.

Design & Designing
Hilliard was an established goldsmith as well as a painter of miniatures. Indeed, between the ages of 15 and 22 he had been apprenticed to the Queen's own Goldsmith, Robert Brandon. This explains why some fifteen years later the design of the silver seal fell to him. Hilliard later complained that the commission caused resentment amongst employees of the Royal Mint who considered the project their own: 'I had once envy enough ..for my doing well in other men's offices.'

Subjects Depicted
Several factors show that this is a portrait of Elizabeth I and a design for her second Great Seal. Because Hilliard rarely produced pen drawings, the very existence of this work suggests a special story; one which in turn fits the evidence that the Queen insisted on seeing several preliminary 'patterns on parchment' before choosing the final design. The costume, jewels and facial features also correspond to other portraits of Elizabeth.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pen and ink drawing on vellum
Brief Description
Design for the Great Seal depicting Elizabeth I, pen and ink drawing, by Nicholas Hilliard, ca. 1585.
Physical Description
Drawing, in outline, depicting Elizabeth I, full length. The borders of the sheet have been chamferred.
Dimensions
  • Height: 14.2cm
  • Width: 12cm
Content description
Portrait of a woman, full length, turned to front, her left hand placed against her bodice; in her right hand she holds a feathered fan.
Styles
Gallery Label
British Galleries: THE OFFICIAL IMAGE OF ELIZABETH I
Queen Elizabeth commissioned a new Great Seal in 1584. This drawing by Nicholas Hilliard may be one of the designs for her new seal. The silver seal itself was made at the royal mint. The Queen used to authorise important documents with a stamped wax impression like the one displayed here.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Presented by Art Fund
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This portrait of Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard is almost certainly one of the pattern drawings that he made for her Great Seal in 1584. Hilliard completed several drawings for the commission and the Queen chose the one that she liked best for the final design. This was not the chosen version.

Design & Designing
Hilliard was an established goldsmith as well as a painter of miniatures. Indeed, between the ages of 15 and 22 he had been apprenticed to the Queen's own Goldsmith, Robert Brandon. This explains why some fifteen years later the design of the silver seal fell to him. Hilliard later complained that the commission caused resentment amongst employees of the Royal Mint who considered the project their own: 'I had once envy enough ..for my doing well in other men's offices.'

Subjects Depicted
Several factors show that this is a portrait of Elizabeth I and a design for her second Great Seal. Because Hilliard rarely produced pen drawings, the very existence of this work suggests a special story; one which in turn fits the evidence that the Queen insisted on seeing several preliminary 'patterns on parchment' before choosing the final design. The costume, jewels and facial features also correspond to other portraits of Elizabeth.
Bibliographic References
  • Owens, Susan, The Art of Drawing British Masters and Methods since 1600, V&A Publishing, London, 2013, p. 15, fig. 1
  • Strong, Roy. Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620. London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1943, London: HMSO, 1956.
Collection
Accession Number
P.9-1943

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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